*** Review ***
Michael Anthony-- Natural Instincts
(Lone Guitar Pub. MA13 1005)
Like his namesake Ron, Mike Anthony is a leading player whose mature, melodic and inventively tasteful playing has been eclipsed by the fickle fashions that come and go like the east wind. Players like Mike and Ron are too readily taken for granted, overlooked by major record companies and perceived as old-fashioned by young guitar fans force-fed a diet of Metheny and Scofield through the many guitar playing magazines that adorn the shelves
One thing is for certain, there is no short cut to experience, and this is made abundantly clear by Mike Anthony's classy playing on NATURAL INSTINCTS.
The entire CD is dedicated to Barney Kessel, but it could just as easily have been dedicated to Howard Roberts, for Anthony's style appears to come from an amalgam of these two masters. His chord playing is remarkably like Kessel's, whereas his method of breaking a solo into segments, e.g. octaves, single lines and block chords, mirrors Roberts' improvisational approach. Wes Montgomery used a similar strategy, but Wes' use of octaves was more extensive, and he didn't run between single lines and block chords in the course of a single phrase; a Howard Roberts trademark.
Anthony employs that quintessential jazz tone--thick plummy and warm--with just enough of that treble edge to provide an attack and focus to each note. The playing is inventive without being too explorative, and like Roberts, Montgomery, and to a lesser degree, Kessel, his solos unfold with a masterful inevitability. Tunes include "Beautiful Love," "When I Fall In Love," "Come Rain or Shine," "Strike Up The Band," and "The Breeze And I."
The Breeze and I forms a bright opener, beautifully reharmonized, with echoes of Howard Roberts in the driving single-line work. Check out Anthony's masterful block chording in the last chorus of his solo. He gets a great tone on the chordal intro to "Beautiful Love," some pretty neat voicings too, followed by an intense but relaxed groove (a la Stan Getz style). Other high points include the unaccompanied rendition of "When I Fall In Love," and the medium tempo reading of "With A Song In My Heart," a tune that appears to be coming back into fashion with jazz guitarists. This is a find CD that shouldn't be overlooked.
Reviewed by Adrian Ingram